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Health & Fitness

Lifting weights got me in shape faster

Miriam Nabakwe, who is in her 40s, at the Homeboyz Fitness Centre at the Ligi Ndogo grounds in Nairobi. PHOTO | Diana Ngila | NMG
Miriam Nabakwe, who is in her 40s, at the Homeboyz Fitness Centre at the Ligi Ndogo grounds in Nairobi. PHOTO | Diana Ngila | NMG 

Miriam Nabakwe can comfortably squat with 100-kilogramme weights and she is not a bodybuilder. She has been exercising using weights to tone up, stay fit and healthy.

The mother-of-three also cut out beef, dairy products, junk or processed foods, cakes, sugar, milk, tea and coffee from her diet.

This is not a drastic exercise and diet regime.

She had piled on extra kilogrammes after years of eating fast food in addition to gaining weight during pregnancy.

‘‘Four months into the pregnancy (her third child), the doctor said the weight of my baby was not corresponding with my weight, meaning that I had to eat. I stopped going to the gym and started eating anything and everything. I loved freshly baked bread and Blueband. I drank lots of milkshakes. By the ninth month I was huge, I looked different and some people couldn’t recognise me but at least the baby weighed four kilos,’’ she says.

As she approached 40 years, her metabolism had slowed down and she hit 98 kilogrammes.

‘‘I decided to eat clean and do weight training exercises,’’ says Ms Nabakwe.

Her weight now fluctuates between 69 kilogrammes and 75 kilogrammes, she feels leaner, breathes better, her feet do not swell due to water retention, thanks to pushing herself in the gym.

‘‘I discovered Homeboyz Fitness Centre, which is owned by Homeboyz Rugby Team. What is unique about this gym is that we do more of body weight training, you push your body to the limits, which is called functional training,’’ she says.

The gym has no set exercise programme. Everyday, people walk into a fitness class without knowing the precise exercises they will do.

‘‘This means that your body will never get used to routine, you’re always doing something different. It’s quite hard, but I push myself,’’ she says. 

Lifting weights has helped her tone up.  Ms Nabakwe had started exercising 10 years ago so that she could look like the owner of Sadili Oval Sports Academy.

‘‘I used to admire her. She looked young for her age. One day, I told her that I wanted to start working out. She said ‘come to my gym, I’ll give you one month free membership,’’’ she says. 

When she started exercising, she focused more on aerobics and a little bit of circuit training.

‘‘I thought that as a woman I was not supposed to lift weights, that weights were for men,’’ she says.

She met a trainer who advised her against doing cardio exercises alone.

‘‘He added strength training into my workouts. In the morning, I would go for cardio and in the evening do strength training,’’ she says. The fitness fan also runs and loves other outdoor exercises such as tyre flips which is done by squatting and turning a truck-like tyre.

She says she has 15 more kilos to shed but is not too concerned with getting to that ‘ideal weight’.

‘‘I want to be healthy,’’ she says.

Miriam Nabakwe with her trainer Collins Musera at the Homeboyz Fitness Centre at the Ligi Ndogo grounds in Nairobi. PHOTO | Diana Ngila | NMG

Miriam Nabakwe with her trainer Collins Musera at the Homeboyz Fitness Centre at the Ligi Ndogo grounds in Nairobi. PHOTO | Diana Ngila | NMG

For breakfast, she eats oatmeal, banana with some raisins, cinnamon-infused water or green tea. At lunch and supper, her plate has large portions of vegetables and proteins. If she adds salt to her food, she prefers sea salt.

For carbohydrates, she eats sweet potatoes or non-sifted brown ugali. She takes a minimum of three litres of water everyday.

‘‘I always walk with a bottle of water and keep sipping all through the day. Water does magic to my body. It plays a big part in speeding up the metabolism. If you’re feeling hungry and you drink water before you eat, it helps you eat less food,’’ says Ms Nabakwe who sells indigenous vegetables which she calls ‘‘the forgotten village food that we should all eat.’’

She adds that everybody should exercise.

‘‘It’s not for small or big people or those with special needs. It’s for everyone. Exercising gives me clarity to deal with many challenges. I may face a tough challenge, but it doesn’t weigh me down,’’ says Ms Nabakwe whose children are aged 26, 17 and six years.

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